Ice cream truck driver Zyber Selimaj walked into a courtroom handcuffed and crying Thursday, two days after Henderson police said they were forced to shoot his wife because she threatened her son and officers with a knife during her husband’s traffic stop.
The 65-year-old Albanian immigrant, with an interpreter at his side, pleaded not guilty in Henderson Municipal Court to two traffic violations and a charge of obstructing police. His bail was set at nearly $4,000.
Judge Mark Stevens stopped the proceedings more than once to ask Selimaj if he could continue.
After the arraignment, Ann Purser, a defense lawyer representing Selimaj, said it was easy to understand why her client was so emotional.
“He doesn’t know where his children are,” Purser said. “He saw his wife get killed.”
Selimaj’s wife, 42-year-old Deshira Selimaj, died at the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center on Tuesday after being shot by Henderson police. The couple’s three sons, ages 5, 7 and 12, are in the protective care of Child Haven.
Deshira Selimaj, also an ice cream truck driver, came to her husband’s aid after he was pulled over in his ice cream truck at an intersection near Coronado High School. Henderson police say they pulled him over for speeding and failing to stop at a stop sign.
A police officer called Deshira Selimaj because Zyber Selimaj was combative and refused to sign the citation, police said. Deshira Selimaj had two of her sons with her, police said.
At one point, she returned to her ice cream truck, got a knife and held it to the throat of one of her sons, police said. Police said the couple made suicidal statements during the incident.
Officers were able to get the child away from her, but she didn’t drop the knife and made a threatening move toward the officers. Police said they tried to subdue her using Tasers.
Police said a language barrier hindered communication with the couple.
Michael Oh, deputy city attorney for Henderson, cited the suicidal statements made during the incident in arguing Thursday that Zyber Selimaj is a danger to his children.
Oh also argued that because Zyber Selimaj had a previous misdemeanor battery charge, he was at risk for not showing up for court dates. Zyber Selimaj was cited by Henderson police in October for hitting a 14-year-old boy in the face after he told the boy there was nothing in the truck he could buy for a dollar.
According to a court official, Zyber Selimaj pleaded no contest to that battery charge and was given a 30-day jail sentence, which was suspended with the condition he complete an anger management class and not be arrested within a year.
Purser said Zyber Selimaj faces six months in jail for the new charges against him.
Oh said he also faces 30 days in jail for violating the court’s terms on the battery charge.
Henderson police on Thursday identified Luke Morrison, 23, as the officer who shot Deshira Selimaj. Morrison has been with the department for two years and remained on paid administrative leave.
Review-Journal writer Scott Spjut contributed to this report. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 383-4638.